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Learmonth show their tenacity on court

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Eliza Dwyer takes a high pass in goal.

IT’S a Springbank and Learmonth grand final after last week’s round of preliminary finals. Springbank (48) defeated Buninyong (35) while Learmonth (42) were triumphant over last year’s premiers, Skipton (35). The Learmonth/Skipton match was a tough, physical game and the scoreboard does not reflect the tussle on court. Learmonth coach Jordan O’Keefe said it was a tough game right up to the third quarter where they drifted away. “The score line was the other worry during that third quarter where we were four goals down,” he said.

“At three quarter time we did a bit of soul searching and in turn who really wanted their finals to end today and who wanted to play another week. “I think in finals it comes literally to who can pull it together on the day. You can have a perfect season and not be able to finish it off or you can have a rough season and perform really well in finals.” So the last quarter is testament the Learmonth girls being able to keep composed and look after possession when it mattered. “We knew that we were going to struggle for height in our defensive end against the Skipton goalers but I’m really happy with the way we managed to cut the ball down outside the circle and limit their options inside,” O’Keefe said. “But Skipton would have looked the better team after three quarter time but we were fortunate in the last few minutes of the three quarter time to take the one goal down and at that stage it could have gone either way, so to win by that much it’s really satisfying.” With injuries in both sides, O’Keefe would have been glad to hear the final whistle.

“When you have an injury your options are really limited, I know, I only have the 8 players so we didn’t have much of an option and I’m really happy that everyone was on the court for a significant amount, too, that’s a really important thing in finals, so that everyone gets a run on the court,” he said.

“The premier league goes up each year and we have seen that not only with Learmonth but Springbank who has improved a lot and it’s the best matchups on the day. Last year’s premier coach, Skipton’s Stacey Rea, says she is ready to hang up his whistle and concentrate solely on playing netball in season 2016. Speaking of the loss to Learmonth, Rea said, “We just couldn’t convert when the times were needed and then I just think they were very physical, which probably rattled us a bit, too. “Some people like the rougher play, some people don’t, but I’ve got a lot of respect for my girls and the way they played and I’m so proud of them “To coach them for two years has been a privilege, I’ve really enjoyed it but in saying that I’m hanging up the boots –it’s a tough gig.

“In respect to the game today, I give it all to Learmonth; they were a good team, played the whole four quarters out and dominated. “